HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — Nov. 21 has been a difficult day for the Tucker family for the last three years. But this year, they had a reason to celebrate.
On Monday, the Association of Fundraising Professionals presented Chad Tucker, FOX8 anchor and host of the award-winning series “Roy’s Folks,” with the Spirit of Philanthropy award, recognizing his continued dedication to raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer research. The presentation was made during a ceremony at Grandover Resort hosted by the NC Triad Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and emceed by FOX8 morning anchor Cindy Farmer.
The award comes three years to the day that the Tucker family’s lives were forever changed. On Nov. 21, 2019, Chad and his wife Meredith learned that their then-3-year-old daughter Pearl Monroe, affectionately nicknamed Roe Roe, had acute lymphocytic leukemia.
As the Tucker family faced this hardship together, they found small moments of light, like a nurse who made Roe Roe laugh or getting to throw the opening pitch at a Winston-Salem Dash game. But they also became a light for others. Chad became a champion, not only for Roe Roe but for the many other children fighting to overcome childhood cancer.
On March 28 of this year, on Roe Roe’s 6th birthday, she got to “ring the bell” at Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, marking the end of her chemotherapy treatments, but it was not the end of this family’s advocacy.
They have continued pushing to promote childhood cancer research and awareness, even appearing on a Times Square billboard as part of the Great Cycle Challenge campaign. Each year, “Team Roe Roe’s Heroes” has taken part in the challenge to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.
For Chad, he hopes this award serves to continue bringing attention to an issue that affects countless families every day.
We asked Chad what the award means to him. Here’s what he said.
“Personally, the award helped make what’s typically a difficult anniversary day for our family a lot sweeter. That day, Nov. 21, 2019, a line was drawn in the sand of our lives — life before cancer. Life before our children’s childhood was stolen. The moment we started seeing the world completely differently. The moment we started seeing clearly the hearts of people. The moments God showed us what He can do on each and every day of her 858-day cancer fight. Our focus now is constant check-ups, watching for side effects and helping carry the water buckets for other families fighting this fire.
“What this award means?
“Good can come out of a storm.
“I hope sharing our story and this award has helped bring much-needed attention to the realty that kids get cancer too. That we have to do more than 4%. Only 4% of federal research dollars are set aside for childhood cancer. Only about 50 drugs have been approved for kids’ cancers since the 1950s. We have to do better. We have to give these kids a larger voice and a fighting chance.
“This award is not mine. It’s for the 47 families that heard today and every day in our country that their child has cancer. It’s for the 250 children that died today and every day in our world from cancer.”
What is the impact of childhood cancer?
Each day, 47 children are diagnosed with cancer in the United States, which means more than 17,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed each year. Globally, about 400,000 new cases of cancer affect children under the age of 20 each year, and that number is most likely underreported due to many cases that go undiagnosed.
In high-income countries, approximately 80% of children diagnosed with cancer will be cured. In some low and middle-income countries, only 20% of children will survive.
In the United States, 84% of children diagnosed with cancer are alive at least five years after diagnosis.
As of 2018, there are approximately 483,000 survivors of childhood cancer in the U.S. This number is projected to grow to more than 500,000 in 2020.
Survival, however, does not mean they are cured or free from long-term side effects. Even those who are cured may suffer long-term side effects as a result of the cancer treatments they received. Children who were treated for cancer are twice as likely to suffer chronic health conditions later in life versus children without a history of cancer.
Cancer is the #1 cause of death by disease among children, though research is consistently underfunded. Only 4% of the billions of dollars the government spends annually on cancer research is directed toward treating childhood cancer, according to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. As a result, only three cancer medications have been specifically developed for children in the last 20 years.
The lack of funding is why many organizations and children’s hospitals work to raise research dollars each year.
How can I help?
If you would like to help, below is a list of research organizations and local non-profits that directly benefit local children and help their families.
Ronald McDonald House Winston-Salem
Ryan’s Cases For Smiles – Winston-Salem Chapter
Some of the top-rated Childhood Cancer Research Foundations, according to Charity Navigator:
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
National Pediatric Cancer Foundation
Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research